City of Hattiesburg secures grant for Midtown Green Park

Mayor Toby Barker announced a $500,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 4:51 PM CST
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The City of Hattiesburg has just received a federal grant to help it construct a new park in Ward 3.

On Tuesday, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker announced a $500,000 land and water conservation grant from the National Park Services. It was administered by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

The grant is expected to fully fund the construction of the Midtown Green Park, in the heart of midtown Hattiesburg.

“This will be a neighborhood park, spurred by those who live here. When I visited several neighborhood associations In 2017 and 2018 to discuss neighborhood needs, wants and desires – this park was one of them,” said Barker.

The city will match the federal grant with $500,000 raised from a one percent sales tax on hotels, motels and restaurants. Forrest County is also helping fund the project.

“After our citizens overwhelmingly passed the 1% Parks and Recreation sales tax in 2019, we began working with the Midtown Merchants Association and local neighborhood associations to put that vision on paper and last year, our team made significant strides in the process through applying for this grant. Now, we’re here and we’re excited about the days ahead.”

This project is a 4.2-acre park with the primary entrance accessible from Crestmont Avenue.

The park will feature a well-lit walking trail, exercise stations, a small performance stage, children’s play area, picnic areas, site furniture and parking with additional overflow made possible by University Baptist Church.

“[The park is] going to get a lot of use,” said Dick Conville, a Ward 3 resident. “Young families are moving in to this neighborhood and so, there will be a lot of children’s voices echoing in this park.”

An additional amenity would be an inclusive-accessible playground, which would provide those with special needs the opportunity to play the same as their peers.

“Over the past four years, we’ve worked on parks projects all across the City – from Duncan Lake’s expansion in Ward 2 to the splash pad at Dewitt-Sullivan Park in Ward 5. While some projects are more complex in nature – like getting to the arbitration stage with FEMA for Timberton Park or working on a grant that allows for the purchase of land like this one – our commitment to progress and making quality of life improvements in every ward remains,” Barker added.

The mayor was joined by Ward 3 Councilman Carter Carroll, Robert St. John, Parks & Recreation Director Chris McGee, Parks & Recreation Projects Manager and Representative Missy McGee and neighborhood representatives for the announcement.

City officials and community leaders believe the park’s amenities and its location will provide a place for neighbors to gather, share in celebrations for milestones and serve as a platform to host special events that add to the quality of life for all.

“At the top of the Midtown Merchants Association’s to-do list was to get a park built— which would be the first public, non-school greenspace— in Midtown Hattiesburg. Today, thanks to the hard work and determination of a lot of people, Midtown Green is a reality,” said St. John, business owner and projects chair for the Midtown Merchants Association. “I am a neighbor, too. I live just a few blocks up and spent 19 years during my life a few blocks away – and I look forward to bringing my adult kids to this park.”

Additional funding for the project will also come from the Forrest County Board of Supervisors. Next, the project will go through the design phase and bid process, with plans to break ground in Summer 2022. Barker hopes the park will be open by late 2023 or early 2024.

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